A few million years ago, a branch of the Seine (missing today) used to form a loop starting from surroundings of Gare de Lyon, going through the Bastille, Grands Boulevards, and joined the south branch around Alma.
A flooding area on the right bank was between the two branches, forming the marsh (“marais” in French). And yet, that’s not what gave his name to the district.
Convents have settled, in the XIIth century, and marked the development of this place : by cleaning up the marshes, the religious could bring the very productive land into cultivation, in order to have fruits and vegetable. So from truck farming (“culture maraîchère”) came the name of the future royal district.
We have the choice between a city palace hesitating with the Middle age and the Renaissance, some other ones from the XVIIth century (and a new conception of the urban aristocratic house), the very elegant Place des Vosges, so much desired by Henry IV, a piece of Philippe-Auguste’s surrounding wall (the biggest vestige in Paris) and also… the “gay” district, the pletzl (rue des Rosiers) and the memory of excellent (and so long…) sermons of Bourdaloue in Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis church…
It is a very rich place I invite you to discover, made of royal vestiges and modernity, which gives the Marais it’s true face and character.
Photo credits : Emilie Robaldo